Despite Mother Nature throwing a bit of an unexpected “cold snap curve ball” into the mix, our Kid’s Halloween Hayride-Philosophy Walk was a blast! And the overcast skies accompanied by occasional gusts of wind and howling trees had all the makings of a spooky day.
Armed with blankets, costumes and vivid imaginations, our group — led by Sir David Lancelot — headed to Merlin Nature Preserve where we were greeted by Dondalf the Wizard who challenged us to a riddle.
“In order to open the magic gate, you must answer me this!,” he said. “When the moon is out, toward th night I howl. When the rabbits are about, these mountains I prowl. I can be white, black, but mostly grey. You might hear me tonight, when I howl and bay. What am I?”
“A Wolf!!!!!” we responded. Yahoo! Our group passed the first challenge….only to be met with another.
What sound do wolves make? he asked. They “howl” said the kids. “That’s right! Now, let’s hear you all howl. That is the secret ingredient.” Our group let out some spectacular wolf howls and the gate opened. Yahoo!
Once we passed through the gate, Dondalf the Wizard handed out sweet tie-dye goodie bags replete with the perfect items to help us explore the world — binoculars, a magnifying glass, a stethoscope, a mini-megaphone, a pencil & field notebook, a sleepmask/blindfold, and a slinky (why not?! Slinkies are awesome)!
From there, we were on our way to Horse Trailer Hill, Deadman’s Gulch and the junction. While in route:
- We listened to wonderful stories (by our special guest story teller & activity guru, Martin — aka The Pirate Jeans LaFit!), and
- Participated in some fun learning activities that encouraged us to experience the world through our eyes & ears.
Upon reaching the junction, it was time to stretch our legs out and do some walking. Our group journeyed to the “haunted homestead” and pond whilst taking in the beautiful terrain! Once we got there…it was cookie and apple cider time (a great way to explore the world through taste!)…followed by more stories!
Then it was time to jump back into the hayride for a leisurely ride back to home base and some more stories and learning activities, specifically:
- Things that encouraged us to use our sense of touch and smell (this is where the sleepmask/blindfolds came into play!).
After showcasing our howling prowess for Rondalf the Wizard (Dondalf’s twin brother) we passed through the magic gate once again and stopped at Silver Creek for one more lesson — this time on proprioception — and a delightful (albeit scary) ghost story inspired by Mark Twain called “The Golden Arm.”
Martin was so convincing that he made the baby cry — not the goal, mind you, but the effect. But not for long! The young’un was quick to recover once it was established that all was well and the golden arm but a harmless tale.
“I did not take your golden arm!” proclaimed the baby!
A statement (in this case, more of a “look”), backed by justified belief, and accompanied by fact. (He, he, he…we start them young here!). What a great day! Thank you so much to all of the kids (and parents) who helped to make our day so much fun!
Special thank you’s to our guest storyteller & activity guru, Martin Richard (aka The Pirate Jeans LaFit), our Hayride Wagon Driver Extraordinaire, David Whedbee (aka Sir David Lancelot), and our Wacky Wizard Dondalf…and his twin brother Rondalf, Donovan Rugg.
Thank you also to Michael Chapman for capturing photos of the fun and to Erna Jensen for baking such wonderful homemade cookies!
And, last but not least, thank you to P.L.A.T.O. for helping us provide these activities to the Helena community and to the Helena Exchange Club for your generous grant that allowed us to secure such fun goodie bag gifts, hay, treats and other items that helped make this walk a success!